|Indonesian Mennonites host Holy Spirit in Mission Conference and
International Missions Association
SEMARANG, Indonesia Dozens of mission leaders from 16 nations, representing 23 different church groups and mission agencies, gathered in Semarang for a conference on the Holy Spirit in Mission, May 12-14, then fanned out across Indonesia on multicultural ministry teams, May 15-19. Events concluded in Jakarta, May 20-21, with two days of reports and business with the 13 International Missions Association (IMA) member agencies and a joyful celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of PIPKA, the mission board of Indonesia Muria Mennonite churches (GKMI).
PIPKA, with assistance from JKI, another Mennonite conference in Indonesia, hosted the Holy Spirit in Mission conference. During the three day conference, the group spent time in fasting and prayer. They heard moving reports from five continents and powerful messages on what the Holy Spirit is doing around the world and will do when invited and expected. Participants testified to supernatural healings, deliverance from satanic bondage, dramatic church growth, and miracles of financial and material supply for new church buildings and for ministry.
During the day, the conference group met at the Sola Gratia GKMI church, but each evening moved to the 6,000-member JKI church for open sessions.
“The growing fellowship, collaboration, and synergy among the various IMA groups is beautiful to see,” said Richard Showalter, president of Eastern Mennonite Missions and chairman of the IMA. He cited last year’s Holy Spirit in Mission conference in Honduras, where Honduran Mennonite church leader Melvin Fernandez requested that his global brothers and sisters pray that one of the Mennonite churches in his district be able to obtain a new property.
The huge, abandoned Chiquita warehouse was prime real estate located in a tourist town near an airport. It had great potential for church development. The owners had already reduced the price from $5 million to $2.5 million when they knew the church was interested, but the congregation still didn’t have the money.
As the 2004 IMA group visited the prospective site and prayed for God’s will to be done, Yesaya Abdi, a missions leader and IMA participant from Indonesia, pressed a $100 bill into Fernandez’s hand. Fernandez said, “When I saw the money from Indonesia, I knew that God was in it, and I received courage.”
Strengthened by the $100 gift as a symbol of God’s blessing, Fernandez and the Honduran church leaders offered $75,000 for the facility. Amazingly, the owners accepted the offer. Then the church went to work in the old warehouse, selling off several tons of scrap steel worth $80,000. They earned more than enough to buy the property and renovate it for a church.
Now at this year’s gathering, Melvin gave the Indonesian church $1,000, a ten-fold payback, and asked, “If $100 can buy a property worth $5 million in Honduras, how much will $1,000 from Honduras buy in Indonesia?”
The Sunday after the conference, the international participants preached in local Mennonite churches in central Java, then broke into 11 smaller ministry teams that traveled to three regions of Indonesia. PIPKA had carefully planned for transportation, meals, lodging, and ministry opportunities in each area. Some groups flew to Medan and Aceh, the region most affected by the tsunami; others flew to western Kalimantan; still others traveled by van and ferry to southern Sumatra, an area of rice fields and cacao bean plantations.
As the international mission leaders ministered in Sumatra and Kalimantan, they saw tremendous needs but witnessed unmistakable evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. The teams led seminars, spoke at youth retreats, conducted revival meetings, visited pastors and remote congregations, spoke with tsunami survivors, and witnessed rebuilding of fishing and salt production industries.
“It was powerful to see Mennonite Christians from very different backgrounds and experiences working side by side in ministry, encouraging more openness to the Holy Spirit and his work,” said Tilahun Beyene, an EMM staff member who serves as the IMA coordinator.
“It felt like the book of Acts,” commented Antonio Ulloa, an EMM church consultant who served as the official English/Spanish translator for the IMA. “When we came to a village in Lampung, the people lined up after the service and asked us to pray for them. Then a sister from the church asked us to go to her house to pray for her husband who, for the past seven months, had been paralyzed by a stroke on the right side. We went and as we prayed, suddenly we saw him start to move the fingers on his right hand.”
Moses Otieno, a bishop from Kenya, said, “In one village we visited, people had never seen an African before. I had a chance to share the gospel from Africa to Indonesia.”
After ministering on an international team in Indonesia, Mosa from the Himalayas* said, “I’ve always had a vision for outreach and church planting among my own people. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to minister cross-culturally and it’s changed my life.”
*Exact location omitted due to regional sensitivities.